Black to the Future by neil spofforth

It is twelve months since Grant Black was appointed as manager at Ossett Town AFC, bringing with him Steve Ridley as a player/Assistant Manager and returning to the club was former striker Micky Norbury as coach.

Black in the dugout with coach Micky Norbury

Black took the job with the club after a run of nine consecutive defeats, third bottom of the Evo-Stik First Division North and looking nervously over their shoulders at relegation to the Northern Counties East League, a division that they escaped in 1999.

Black signed Alex Peterson and Jack Siddall from Premier Division side Matlock Town, Jack Wakefield from Frickley, Brad Kilner from Sheffield FC and Danny Frost from Ossett Albion, and they were all given debuts in his first game at Burscough.

It was a flying start with both Peterson and Frost getting on the scoresheet as the Reds won in the league for the first time in five months.

Alex Peterson and Danny Frost made an immediate impact

The squad was further improved with the signing of Liam Schofield, meaning the experienced Steve Ridley could move into centre midfield and add a wealth of experience in the middle of the park.

French goalkeeper Thomas Beaurepaire signed for the club, meaning Chris Backhouse could return to what he was appointed to do, coach the goalkeepers rather than play and the likes of Andy Hawksworth, Dan Monfredi and Simon Rogers, already at the club, started to perform and became rocks of the side.

The turnaround at the club was incredible, the mood both on and off the field changed considerably. Ossett Town, in the final 16 games of the season that Black was in charge took more points than the previous 26 games, as well as over half the goals scored last season coming in the same games.

First game, first win!

The season ended with six victories from the final eight games as Town avoided relegation easily, only missing out on the final team of the month award by one point as it was given to run away league champions Warrington Town.

A huge win and a bigger celebration

As the season progressed, support started on an upward curve as the home and away attendances grew. The clubs official supporters club, The Backslappers, became more and more popular attracting members from all around the world to the Facebook page.

Whilst Black strengthened the playing staff with impressive signings such as Leigh Overton, Ashley Jackson and Leon Henry the off-field side was also getting stronger with a new programme editor as well as new members of the committee.

Each volunteer working towards the same aim of giving the club the best possible chance to move forward. As the club takes giant strides forward on the field the committee, led by Chairman James Rogers, are working hard to increase revenue at the club, especially by way of sponsorship.

Confidence at the club was high at the start of the season, whilst no one truly believed a challenge at the top was likely, top half was the aim and a season with no relegation fear is what was wanted.

Black show's he's still got it....

An excellent win over Brighouse was followed by a tremendous away win at Trafford, a side tipped for promotion saw belief grow, a couple of wins in the FA Cup built confidence also with a battling win over Goole with ten men and then a come from behind success against Billingham Synthonia. The FA Cup run was ended by FC United of Manchester, a game that showed the side what it takes to compete against a Conference North Side.

November saw four wins out of six and December even better as maximum points were collected and the Reds were sitting top of the pile and clubs were starting to take notice. Approaches were made for a number of Grant Black’s squad and to a man the offers were turned down.

The players have bought into what Black and his coaches are doing at Ingfield and possible on field success was chosen over better financial offers elsewhere.

Grant Black has not, however, rested on his laurels, adding to the squad throughout the season, keeping players on their toes and adding a strength in depth to the squad, something not seen at Ossett Town for a number of years.

Darol Lucas has returned for a second spell at the club, as has Sam Wright. Jason Yates continues to impress since his move to the club and most recently Marcus Day was signed on loan from Harrogate Town.

Alongside the likes of Tyrone Gay and Andy Hawksworth, rocks at the back, and captain Alex Peterson and Danny Frost who have 28 goals between them the squad is well set heading into the final stretch of the season.

Chairman James Rogers is now looking forward with a renewed enthusiasm. “We’ve had a tough few seasons both on and off the field. A lot of people have put a lot of effort in to maintain and improve facilities. The club house is currently in the second stage of a complete refurbishment meaning it is a more inviting environment for both football fans and functions for the community”.

“When I was first elected as Chairman the committee and I put in place a short, medium and long term plan. Challenging for promotion to the Premier Division was the medium plan and this season we are doing that so we are ahead of the curve”.

“Wakefield is the largest city in the country that doesn’t have a Football League club, whilst that dream is a long way away at this time, with the right investment and sponsorship who knows how far we can go. The club is run entirely by volunteers and owned by its members, and each member has the right to say they own part of their own football club. It is an exciting time at Ossett Town and I urge local football fans who are at a loose end on a weekend to come down to Ingfield and see what we’re about for themselves. If anyone reading this is also interested in helping us achieve our longer term ambitions please do not hesitate to get in touch”.

Black looks to the future
Created By
Neil Spofforth


Mark Gledhill

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